Exclusive Interview of Heavyweight Fighter Clarence Tillman: “I’m a fighter that will always want to fight the best possible at whatever stage I’m at in my career.”

Exclusive interview by Charles C. White – Taking time out of his training schedule, heavyweight boxer Clarence Tillman (6-5-1 with 4 ko’s) kindly answered all of my questions. After some early setbacks in his career, Tillman is looking to turn a new leaf and get back on track towards winning ways and greater opportunities. Here is what Clarence had to say…

Thanks for the interview Clarence. How are you today? – I’m doing just fine. It’s a little cold here now but I’m good..

Let’s start with a bit of your background. You were originally a football player. Tell the fans a bit about your football background…

I’m from New Orleans, LA. I played football all throughout childhood then attended North Carolina Central University where I graduated in 2002 with a Bachelors in history. After college I went to mini-camp with the Cleveland Browns then played arena football for 4 years.

How did you get your start in boxing then?

Well I was doing it off and on since maybe 12 but once I realized I could get a free education with football it was a no brainer, but I would always find my way to a boxing gym from time to time.

What is your amateur background and overall amateur record?

My amateur record was something like 37-6. I don’t know the exact record but I fought in several national tournaments and fought vs the Canadians in Houston also. I boxed out of Savannah Boxing Club in Houston, Texas, the best amateur program in the country. We had several future champs there like Hylon Williams Jr, Lenard Lane and Omar Henry.

You’re a big guy at 6′ 5” and roughly 280-300 lbs. How would you describe your style?

I’m a boxer/puncher. More puncher than boxer at this stage but as the weight comes down my talent will rise to the surface.

Who are you currently trained by, and what does a typical day of training look like for you?

I don’t have a trainer at the moment here in New Zealand. I have to find the right fit but I was trained by Jeff Mayweather and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad when I lived in Las Vegas. A typical day for me right now is waking up and getting my road work in most importantly. Then the boxing gym later in the afternoon and maybe a light jog or walk before bed.

You are now 6-5-1 with 4 ko’s. You have had some early setbacks in your career. What can you attribute these to?

Bad decisions. I think I should only have 2 losses but when you take fights on short notice on their promoter’s show you know you have to knock these guys out. History is filled with guys that start out 10-0, 15-0, 20-0 and as soon as they meet someone that’s not a pudding pop they get smashed as we have seen at least 20 times in the last year or so with so called prospects being spoon fed and running into a train. And also I should have been better prepared to take advantage of these opportunities because looking back they were all winnable fights. So I don’t mind learning experiences now.

What actions need to be taken on your part for you to overcome these setbacks and get back on the right path, whether it be in the gym or the ring?

Well the first step is recognizing what I did wrong and correct that. Then getting myself in the best possible condition and the rest will take care of itself.

Too many people write off fighters with early losses to their name these days. What would you say to those people?

I don’t say anything. Most of the critics never fought and don’t understand how this game can work sometimes, but you can look throughout history and see several examples of fighters starting out tough.

You’ve fought some good up and comers in Ahmed Samir, Tor Hamer and Jonte Willis. What did you take away from these fight experiences?

I took that I need to put more out as far as punches but all of those were winnable.

When is your next fight, and whom is it against?

I’m not sure yet. I was supposed to fight Thursday in Sydney, Australia but the guy fought an MMA fight and got a bad cut.

Who have you been sparring with lately?

I’m currently sparring several different guys, not sure of the names though.

Interestingly, your last 5 fights have been in Auckland, NZ, which is a long way from your home town. How did you come to fight and live part time in Auckland?

I ended up here by chance. I was actually gonna pack up and move to Europe since the heavyweight scene is better there, but I met Craig Thomson and he convinced me to come to New Zealand and I must say he is the most honest person I have met in boxing, maybe the only one.

Have you noticed any major differences in the way that the boxing world conducts itself in New Zealand as opposed to America?

Yes, there are a lot less snakes here (laughs).

In your last fight, you dropped a decision to Joey Wilson. According to boxrec.com, you have a rematch lined up with Wilson in October. What will you do differently in a rematch with Wilson in order to ensure victory?

I will knock him out.

There was a rumor going around that you dropped former 2x heavyweight champion of the world Hasim “The Rock” Rahman in sparring. Can you comment on that encounter?

I’m not sure where rumors like that get started…

What other top fighters have you sparred with in the past?

Evander Holyfield, Michael Grant, Oliver McCall, Travis Walker, Aaron Williams and too many others to name.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the heavyweight division and where do you see yourself in it a few years down the road?

I don’t think it’s as bad as people make it out to be, I just think the way the European guys fight is effective but not exciting. But they have the titles so maybe they are on to something (laughs).

Of all of the current champions, which would you most like a crack at someday?

I would want the best at that point. I’m a fighter that will always want to fight the best possible at whatever stage I’m at in my career. I don’t want to be a guy with 25 fights, fighting guys in their pro debut. That proves nothing.

There are two interesting heavyweight title fights coming up, and I’d like your opinion on how you think they might turn out. First is the rematch between Wladimir Klitchsko and Samuel Peter, and the other is Shannon Briggs vs. Vitali Klitchsko. How do you see these fights playing out?

First of all, I hope they are both good, exciting fights. I think Samuel has the best chance to win. Shannon Briggs has always been one of my favorites so I hope he can get an early knockout or it may be tough on him.

If not a boxer, what profession do you think you would be in?

Well I have a few business ventures outside of the ring and also have some great opportunities here in NZ and in Australia. But to answer your question, I would probably be doing something that would be helping at risk youth.

When you aren’t boxing or training for a fight, how do you like to pass your time?

I like to relax at home. I don’t go out much. If people can see you 5 days a week in the club, why would they pay to see you fight? Then there is no excitement when they see you.

I was told by your promoter, that a short while ago, you were helping out with the cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. How did you get involved in this noble work, and did it at all interfere with your training schedule?

Yeah that was a sad situation. It interfered with training but that was a higher call. I can always workout, those people can’t live without that water being cleaned up. So when I got home I called Damien St Pierre who happens to be a boxing promoter and asked how could I help and he led me in the right direction.

Thank you for your time Clarence. Any final message to the readers?

No problem. I hope to get a chance to deliver great fights for all the fans in the near future. They can add me on facebook or twitter @MrClarenceT.

For questions and comments, or to schedule an interview, Charles White can be reached at 360-333-5911.